The history of AVSM started with ‘The Association of Hospice Voluntary Service Co-ordinators’ which was formed in 1990, six years after the first meeting of 43 Volunteer Organisers was held at Sir Michael Sobell House in Oxford.
Over the next four years, conferences took place annually, all held in Sheffield. Discussions at these identified a need for a National Association to provide training and support for potential members and a voice at national level for Voluntary Service Co-ordinators. At the 1989 conference at Midhurst, West Sussex, a steering committee was elected and in 1990 at Swanick in Derbyshire a Constitution was adopted.
The aims of the Association at that time were:
- To promote discussion of issues related to the organisation and management of volunteers
- To promote training and provide a network of support and guidance for Hospice Voluntary Service Co-ordinators
- To provide a national conference
- To promote liaison with other professional organisations at regional and national level
- To offer guidance on the appointment of Voluntary Service Co-ordinators and to promote good practice in their management.
In the years following its formation, the association achieved much of what it was set up to do. It earned a reputation as a voice for good practice in managing volunteers, setting up and encouraging high standards, in particular with the publication of several in-house guidance documents.
As the Association moved forward and grew
in numbers so it also had to meet the challenges of the developments in
palliative care and changes in the world of volunteering. The need for
members to play a more active role in the business of the Association
became increasingly clear.
To begin to address this a workshop, to which all Executive members and
representatives from the regions were invited, was held early in 1998 in
Manchester. A new structure for the Association was discussed and
proposed. At the AGM in September 1998 this was formally adopted.
Acknowledging how much change there had been and how the roles of VSCs had developed through the years, the Association then took steps to establish new aims and objectives, and to review its Constitution. A one-day workshop was held in January 1999 to which all regions were invited to send representatives. There a new mission statement and aims and objectives for the Association were proposed. It was also agreed that we should consider a change of name from the unwieldy AHVSC.
Regional representatives took these proposals to meetings of regional
members for discussion. Final wording for the Mission Statement and Aims
and Objectives was agreed. The Executive Committee undertook to
research possibilities for a new name.
A small working group of members was then formed to look at the
implications for the future working of the Association and its
Constitution, and to consider suggestions for a new name. While the work
on the Constitution continued, a referendum was held among members on a
new name for the Association. The majority voted for ‘InVOLve: Managing
Volunteering in Palliative Care.’ This new name together with the new
Constitution was adopted at the AGM of October 2000. A new logo was also
discussed at the time.
In 2001 the new logo was then designed and incorporated into InVOLve letterheads and paperwork. It was also a year of understanding the practicalities involved with the new Constitution and making procedures work.
It was agreed at the AGM to change the name to ‘Association of Voluntary Services Managers’, as InVOLve had become confused with other organisations.
Instead of formal training, AVSM began to offer bursaries to regions, so that they could set up their own training. In addition, AVSM set up its own website, accessed through the Help the Hospices NPA page.
AVSM moved to be constituted within Help the Hospices, which offered considerable financial and practical advantages to the group.
In 2013, Help the Hospices underwent an internal reorganisation, as a result of which they were no longer able to offer support to NPAs. At an Extraordinary General Meeting in 2013, AVSM became once again independent of Help the Hospices.
We provided a bursary for two of our members to attend the European Association of Palliative Care Symposium in Austria in 2015 and worked with the EAPC Task Force to identify ways in which we can be a voice for British hospice volunteering. We held a successful conference in Liverpool. We began a review of our website to ensure that it offers better opportunities to network and share learning online.
Our new website went live. Membership reached record levels, at over 160 people. We held our best attended conference ever, this time in Edinburgh. Local meetings continued to thrive and several training grants were awarded in order to up-skill Voluntary Services Managers across the regions.
In 2017, AVSM is engaged in several strands of work, including:
- Continuing to offer an annual conference to members, offering opportunities to learn from each other and from other volunteer-involving organisations, outside the Hospice world;
- Reviewing the website, to offer better opportunities to network and share learning online;
- Continuing to offer each of its national regions an annual bursary towards training;
- A survey of membership, offering opportunities to benchmark with other members;